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We hope you can join us for the next Research IT Reading Group -- the first to be held at the new Academic Innovation Studio in Dwinelle Hall -- as we discuss emerging trends related to consultation on research and teaching. 

Thursday, June 30 from 12 - 1pm
Where: Academic Innovation Studio, Dwinelle 117 (note the new location)
What: Emerging Trends in Consultation, a brown bag lunch and discussion
Facilitated by: the Consulting Summit Emerging Trends Working Group: Harrison Dekker (Library Data Lab), Cody Hennesy (Doe Library), Steve Masover (Research IT), Aron Roberts (Research IT), Noah Wittman (ETS)

What methods, approaches, technologies or tools have staff with consulting responsibilities seen attracting broader/deeper interest or adoption among communities of researchers and instructors? Are there cutting edge practices that are being more widely adopted on campus? How might they be better supported?

To help us shape the discussion, we hope you can quickly review trends identified in the April Consulting Summit meeting and suggest trends that may have been overlooked:

Goals for the meeting are to provide an opportunity for participants to share observations of emerging trends, and to reflect on how consulting services on campus might be improved to better identify observed trends over time.


Presenting: Aron Roberts (Research IT), Cody Hennessey (Library), Harrison Dekker (Library), Noah Wittman (ETS), Steve Masover (Research IT)


Aaron Culich, Research IT
Anthony Suen, BIDS
Barbara Gilson, SAIT
Bill Allison, IST-API & Campus CTO
Camille Crittenden, CITRIS
Claudia Von Vocano, DH/D-Lab
Jamie Wittenberg, Library & Research IT
Jenn Stringer, ETS
Jennifer Dorner, Doe Library
Jon Stiles, D-Lab
Kelly Rowland, Nuclear Engineering & BRC
Quinn Dombrowski, Research IT
Patrick Schmitz, Research IT
Rick Jaffe, Research IT
Scott Peterson, Doe Library
Steven Carrier, School of Education


Cody: setting context (see slides)
Noah: Emerging Trends list ( Some question whether truly-emerging trends can/will be represented in systems that log consultations, or not.

Noah spoke on the ET topic of "Faculty going directly to vendor and how to deal with vendors." Specifically: faculty going directly to Canvas, independently integrating tools for things from media management/distribution; content; et al. Raises question about what the threshhold ought to be about vetting tools, obtaining licensing campuswide, etc.

Jamie (and others) spoke on the ET topic "Users attempting to scrape licensed resources" -- people are doing this; publishers are pushing back against it (including "trap" URLs that, when accessed, presumably by a crawler, block a user from all the publisher's content). This even though it's possible in some cases to get mineable data sets so that scraping is not necessary (Cody has put together a guide to what's available). There's clearly a misunderstanding on the part of some users about what it means that the Library has purchased resources for the campus (e.g., that licensing doesn't permit mass downloading of content).

Jenn and others note that these two issues are quite similar: people going around security/licensing controls to get what they want, naively for the most part. How can we more clearly and widely communicate what licensing arrangements are and why it matters to comply with them.

Patrick noted similarity to secure data issues: people wanting to fly under the radar because "doing this properly" would take longer, incur additional expense, etc. People don't necessarily know how much liability they're incurring, for themselves or for the University. How do we communicate that without angering people.


Jon: difference between what's out there as an emerging trend, vs. what we see. New capacity and outreach efforts associated with them have been added to the campus around data sources, HPC, consulting, newsletters -- this spawns people coming to us ... does that mean it's a trend, or is it just a bump due to outreach efforts.

Cody: Are trends problem areas that need to be addressed, when do you address more broadly than simply writing a document/guide. What outreach around cross-cutting issues (such as sharing CalNet credentials, which people do).

Claudia: Advocacy as a complimentary activity to policing/compliance activity. How can we make available things that researchers want/need but that we can't make available on the terms they need under current licensing arrangements.

Cody: Jupyter notebooks. In research and teaching. How do we share resources when something like this technology looks like it's catching on?

Harrison: cloud-based solutions (such as Jupyter notebooks). Need to address how we ensure that data set(s) used can be appropriately shared with others in a class, etc. Worth noting that we also need to address that Jupyter notebooks do break: library dependencies go missing -- notebook needs to track versions of dependent libraries. (Claudia: how do we balance user self-updating their environment vs. managing for them.)

Aaron: the list developed by this group describes things we're hearing. What are we responding/saying as we discover these new trends/problems.

Steve: what triggers a common / coordinated response to an emerging trend, and when do we just let individual consultants deal with them?

Jenn: What categories do these trends fall into, and do different categories demand different kinds of responses?

Claudia: Context in which a technology is used -- instructional? other?

Harrison: We hear about some needs/trends. How do we discover those that don't come to us through the usual channels? Might we create a knowledge base around trends that do require attention/communication?

Jamie: coordination of guidance among all the groups represented here is non-trivial!

Jennifer: An internal FAQ, a resource for consultants, to communicate across all the units that consult on campus. Public is good too; but some policy or partially-developed ideas don't belong in a public sphere.

Cody: just a listserve? Maybe not so much about tracking or FAQs as having a forum for discussion.

Patrick: user groups / peer consulting is something we (Research IT) talk about vis-a-vis "scaling" our consulting capacity. But one issue becomes a peer group moving in emergent directions that at least some of the professional consulting staff might do differently. How do professional consultants relate to peer networks.

Noah: It seems to me that engaging with peer networks is something we have to do. These are the actual users/practitioners.

Claudia: Might we engage with an existing system, like CORA. Because we're not going to create a definitive description of what ought to be used.

Patrick: Not convinced it's a tool. It's more a social thing.

Quinn/Noah/Jenn: TeachNet. ETS is careful about when/how to interact. Some contacts offline, when it would be inappropriate to contradict or correct a faculty member, lecturer, etc. in a public forum. Careful about not hovering too closely, or presenting ETS as some kind of 'authority' or 'official' group to do with pedagogy.

Patrick: TeachNet is well-established. What about smaller communities, where do people coalesce around issues of narrower scope (example: JupyterHub). How do we interface with these communities, how much time do we spend with them.

Claudia: Working Groups -- that's a common kind of community that emerges on the campus.

Patrick/Jamie: broad and diverse issues and the many communities that form around them: "data" is not one thing; "cloud" is not one thing. Jamie points out that subject-expertise.

Cody: What should this emerging trends working group do? Are these discussions the scope of this work? Something like this again at the next Consulting Summit? What else should we do?

Jamie: Consulting Portal group ... perhaps integrate trends into that site? With references to folks who can consult on a given trend/issue/technology?

Jennifer: Would like to see discussion, broader than 1:1

Patrick: regular meeting of a broader forum on emerging trends ... perhaps with a topic announced well in advanced so that individual groups of consultants can prepare for their interest area.

Aaron: What might the group do in the meantime, between those broader forum meetings?

Jenn: use a forum like this meeting to identify trends/issues that require effort that's broader than what one consultant or consultant group can reasonably do.

Jennifer: how can we monitor what people are consulting about in the AIS, and use that as a source.


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